News bites: Oil prices go up on Libya strikes, efforts to control Japanese reactors continue

And The New York Times reports on the latest setback in the ongoing effort to get control of overheating nuclear reactors in Japan:

“Efforts to stabilize the hobbled nuclear power plant in Fukushima hit a snag on Monday when engineers found that crucial machinery at one reactor requires repair, a process that will take two to three days, government officials said.

“Another team of workers trying to repair a separate reactor was forced to evacuate in the afternoon after gray smoke rose from Reactor No. 3, said Tetsuro Fukuyama, deputy chief cabinet secretary. However, no explosion was heard and the emission ended by 6 p.m., NHK said. In a separate incident, the broadcaster cited the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency as saying white smoke was coming from the No. 2 Reactor building. Significantly higher levels of radiation have not been detected around the two reactors, Mr. Fukuyama said.”

But power has now been restored to all six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station.

"Power cables have now been connected to all six nuclear reactors at Japan's tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, operator Tokyo Electric Power said on Monday," according to Reuters.

"The last two reactors to be hooked up to power from the main grid on Monday were reactors No.3 and No.4, the two most badly damaged units, company officials told a briefing."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard is looking into reports of a possible oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The U.S. Coast Guard said late Saturday that it is investigating reports of a miles-long oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

“The Coast Guard said in a news release that it received a report of a three-mile-long rainbow sheen off the Louisiana coast just before 9:30 a.m. local time on Saturday. Two subsequent sightings were relayed to the Coast Guard, the last of which reported a sheen that extended from about 6 miles south of Grand Isle, La., to 100 miles offshore.

“Though the Coast Guard was able to confirm that there is a substance on the water's surface, it has not yet been able to determine if it is oil.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding studies on the effect of climate change on farming.

“The federal government is investing $60 million in three major studies on the effects of climate change on crops and forests to help ensure farmers and foresters can continue producing food and timber while trying to limit the impact of a changing environment,” The Associated Press reports.

“The three studies take a new approach to crop and climate research by bringing together researchers from a wide variety of fields and encouraging them to find solutions appropriate to specific geographic areas. One study will focus on Midwestern corn, another on wheat in the Northwest and a third on Southern pine forests.”

And consumers in the United Kingdom want businesses to be held accountable for their carbon emissions.

“Seven in 10 U.K. consumers polled say businesses should be required to report carbon emissions, a survey commissioned by the government-funded Carbon Trust found,” according to Bloomberg.

“Ninety percent of those surveyed said companies should commit to reducing heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions by 3 percent a year, 70 percent said carbon reporting should be mandatory and 56 percent said they’re more concerned than five years ago about business actions to combat climate change, according to the poll e-mailed today by the low-carbon advocate.”

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